Air Algérie flight recorder found but no survivors, Hollande
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The flight recorder of the Air Algérie plane that crashed in northern Mali on Thursday has been found and should be examined as soon as possible, President François Hollande announced on Friday, adding that there were no survivors.
Update: 54 French nationals were on board the plane, 10 from the same family, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, there were no survivors and I share the families’ grief,” Hollande said after a crisis meeting at the Elysée presidential palace on Friday morning.
There were in fact 118 people on board – 112 passengers and six crew – not 116, as previously reported, the Elysée said.
The foreign affairs ministry will meet the families of the 51 French victims on Saturday, Hollande said and another crisis cell meeting will take place then.
French troops who rushed to the scene of the crash overnight have found the plane’s black bow and it will be examined “as soon as possible”, the French president reported.
“The debris from the plane are concentrated over a limited area but it is still too early to reach any conclusions,” he said. “There are hypotheses, notably to do with the weather, but we aren’t ruling any out.”
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve earlier said that weather conditions were the most likely cause of the accident.
About 100 French troops, who left the northern Mali town of Gao overnight, arrived in the area of the crash at dawn, the French defence ministry said.
They have set up a logistical base at Gossi, near the crash site, and are to secure the area.
During the night about 10 troops arrived at the scene, following the wreckage’s discovery, and a further 20, including a doctor, followed them.